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Nate McLouth Rumors
Indians pitcher Scott Atchison, 38, has himself a new deal which gave manager Terry Francona a meatball of a joke setup. “What’d they give him?” Francona asked reporters, including Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. “A year, an option, and an AARP card?” More from around baseball..
- MLBTR (Twitter link) has learned that Clay Rapada will take 2-3 weeks to let his injured ankle heal before pursuing his next contract. The left-hander struggled with the Orioles‘ Triple-A affiliate in large part due to that bad ankle. Rapada had a 5.63 ERA in 38 1/3 Triple-A innings this season, a far cry from the 2.82 ERA he posted in 2012 for the Yankees.
- The Diamondbacks‘ record $115MM payroll isn’t a one-time thing, but rather a sign of what’s to come, president/CEO Derrick Hall tells Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona. “It is safe to say it will be $100MM-plus,” Hall said of the payroll for next year. “We definitely want to be close to where we were. Will we get to $115MM? I don’t know. But I don’t know if that is necessary.”
- The Nationals announced that outfielder Nate McLouth will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the labrum in his right shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season. McLouth, 33 in October, signed a two-year, $10.75MM deal with the Nats in December that contains a club option for a third season valued at $6.5MM.
- A.J. Burnett was on the hill tonight for the Phillies and even though he lost, he’s got a reason to smile. As Todd Zolecki of MLB.com (on Twitter) notes, tonight was his 27th start of the season, which bumped his player option from $8.5MM to $10MM. With 30 total starts, he can bump that number to $11.75MM. If he reaches 32 starts, that number goes to $12.75MM.
3:59pm: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets that McLouth will earn $5MM in each year of the deal, and his club option contains a $750K buyout.
3:20pm: The Nationals were in the market for a left-handed hitting outfielder to strengthen their bench, and they addressed that need by bringing Nate McLouth into the fold. Washington officially announced a two-year deal for McLouth today — a contract that is reportedly worth $10.75MM and contains a club option for a third season valued at $6.5MM. McLouth is represented by The Sparta Group.
Rosenthal goes on to note that while McLouth will technically be the Nats' fourth outfielder behind Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth, but he will get "significant" at-bats. McLouth will serve as insurance for all three outfield positions, but he could also see a more regular role if recent rumors that Span could be available prove to be true.
The 32-year-old McLouth batted .258/.329/.399 with 12 homers and a career-best 30 stolen bases for the Orioles last season. Curiously, McLouth swiped 24 bases in 28 attempts in the season's first half but only attempted nine steals in the entire second half. He's significantly better against right-handed pitching, as he batted just .209/.283/.357 against fellow lefties in 2013.
McLouth's career looked to be on a downward trajectory after he struggled in Atlanta and was released midseason upon his return to the Pirates organization. However, he latched on with the Orioles, and over a span of 201 games with Baltimore, he slashed .261/.333/.409. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes correctly projected that McLouth would sign a two-year deal this offseason in his free agent profile, pegging him for a $10MM guarantee.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the two-year agreement (on Twitter). The $10.75MM value and club option were first reported by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported the option's $6.5MM value.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Trading Jonathan Papelbon wouldn't solve much for the Phillies at this point, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. Seidman runs down a possible scenario in which the Phillies ate $6MM to move Papelbon, noting that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would then still try to sign a replacement. Names like Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit could cost upwards of $10MM per season anyhow, meaning the Phillies may not even save much money should that scenario play out. Papelbon will have more value to teams at the trade deadline when fewer quality options are available, writes Seidman. Here's more from the NL East…
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves have approached some of their young stars about extensions over the past two years but felt they'd have to overpay to get something done.
- O'Brien also runs down the Braves needs on the heels of a quiet Winter Meetings, noting that they're optimistic about re-signing Eric O'Flaherty. Atlanta is still pursuing a veteran bench bat — O'Brien mentions Eric Chavez — and are still interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Braves may be considered the favorites to land Samardzija at this point, says O'Brien, noting that payroll constraints will likely preclude them from pursuing David Price.
- After adding to their rotation, bench and bullpen, the Nationals will now turn their focus to extending Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Should the Nats be unable to extend Zimmermann, they may be forced to consider trading him this time next season, one source told Kilgore.
- Nate McLouth spoke to former teammate Adam LaRoche (whom he called one of his favorite teammates ever) and asked what the Nationals clubhouse was like before deciding to sign there, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. McLouth doesn't hold ill will toward the Orioles for not retaining him.
Dave Stewart, Matt Kemp's agent, has a "strong feeling something could happen" involving his client at the Winter Meetings, the former pitcher tells ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. "This is the first time we've experienced this," Stewart said. "This is the first time we've heard it this much, and the first time we really believe something could happen." The Dodgers have been listening to offers for Kemp, and the Mariners, Rangers and Red Sox have all been linked to the outfielder, plus other teams.
Here's the latest from around the NL West…
- The Rockies are still looking for bullpen help and have maintained their interest in Jose Veras and Jesse Crain, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (Twitter links). The club's interest in Crain, of course, hinges on whether he is healthy following the shoulder injury that prematurely ended his 2013 season.
- The Rockies had interest in Corey Hart and Mike Morse but both players profiled better as first basemen, Renck notes, a position that Colorado has since addressed by signing Justin Morneau. The Rockies have a hole in left field, with Carlos Gonzalez shifting to center and Michael Cuddyer remaining in right.
- The Padres had some interest in David Murphy and Nate McLouth, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. With Murphy and McLouth respectively signed by the Indians and Nationals, however, San Diego's search for a left-handed hitting outfielder may have ended with their trade for Seth Smith.
- Ichiro Suzuki seems relegated to the bench in New York, so John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links) thinks the Giants should try to acquire the veteran address their outfield depth. Shea notes that Suzuki and Giants manager Bruce Bochy share an agent, plus Suzuki could be cheaply acquired from the Yankees. San Francisco had some interest in Ichiro when he was a free agent last winter.
The Yankees are interested in Nate McLouth writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but more as a backup plan to primary targets such as Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson. The Orioles remain in the mix for McLouth, and Rosenthal adds that the chances of McLouth going to the Yankees appear "slim." Still, he points out, the very fact that they're keeping tabs on McLouth speaks to the wide net they've cast this winter and the "tangled web of the Yankees' offseason." Here's more out of the AL East …
- We just hit on some Red Sox notes, but also within the report of WEEI.com's Alex Speier are some quotes from Sox backstop David Ross, who spoke with former teammate Brian McCann about coming to Boston. McCann expressed to Ross that years were the primary factor in his decision to join the Yankees. It didn't hurt, Ross added, that McCann relishes the idea of swinging into Yankee Stadium's welcoming right field fence.
- "We've been focused on adding some pitching depth, and that's been accomplished so far," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com following today's acquisition of Brad Brach. Duquette also acknowledged that most of the work to be done still lies ahead: "It's only Nov. 25. We're working to set up the team to be competitive next season."
- We also learned earlier today that Duquette expects to tender contracts to all of the club's players that are eligible for arbitration.
- Recent reports have linked the Blue Jays to Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, but the club has not made any trade offers to acquire a starter, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told MLB Network Radio (via MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm). Though Anthopoulos did not deny interest, or that the club has talked things over with Chicago, he did dampen expectations of any major news before the Winter Meetings. "Before the Thanksgiving holiday sometimes there's that last little push [when] teams want to get some things off their plate," said Anthopoulos. "So maybe things happen here in the next two or three days. If not, we'll take it to the [Winter Meetings], I guess, at that point."
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Orioles have been one of the most mentioned teams on MLBTR with the club trying to decide whether to extend or trade Matt Wieters and approaching the Cardinals about a J.J. Hardy-Shelby Miller trade. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com weighs in on those and other topics in a "Because You Asked" column:
- The Hardy-Miller talks were just preliminary, but not unexpected because of the Orioles' quest for starting pitching and the Cardinals' need for a shortstop. Kubatko sees the O's acquiring a starter and keeping Hardy.
- Wieters is not untouchable and the Orioles are willing to trade him, but are not feverishly shopping the catcher. Financial constraints are compounding the Wieters situation, as the front office is trying to figure out how to accomodate within their budget the pursuit of free agents like Carlos Beltran and arbitration raises for Wieters and others (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $41.2MM for eight arbitration eligible players).
- There is no progress in negotiations with outfielder Nate McLouth. The Orioles are concerned with other clubs offering him a two-year deal. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted two years and $10MM for McLouth to which a person in the Orioles organization, when asked by Kubatko late in the season, responded: "Well, he won't be getting that from us."
- Kubatko suggests the Orioles swallow hard and give McLouth a two-year contract since they did so for Wilson Betemit. If re-signed, Kubatko doesn't necessarily see McLouth as the full-time starter in left, but a valuable fourth outfielder, occasional DH, pinch-runner, and defensive replacement.
- The Orioles like Carlos Beltran and see him as a great fit; but, will have to outbid some big spending teams, which they haven't done historically.
- One option worth debating to free up payroll space for Beltran, according to Kubatko, is trading Jim Johnson and his expected $10.8MM arbitration salary. The Orioles have said they intend to keep their closer.
- Kubatko spoke with someone in the organization recently who steered him away from Scott Kazmir, as if the Orioles have no interest. The O's, however, do have interest in Tim Hudson.
- There is a definite possibility Brian Roberts will return to Baltimore. If not, Mark Ellis is on the club's radar as an alternative because he won't command a three-year deal like Omar Infante.
Here's the latest out of Baltimore …
- The Orioles remain interested in bringing back outfielder Nate McLouth and have engaged in discussions with his agency (The Sparta Group), reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The O's have yet to make a formal offer, says Connolly, and when they do it might need to include a figure for the 2015 season, as McLouth is looking likely to command multiple years. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that the 32-year-old would land a two-year, $10MM deal.
- Baltimore may not spend a lot on the free agent market, but the team has been aggressive early in making multiple offers to targets, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. She sees the club targeting the mid-tier starting pitching market.
- Meanwhile, says Ghiroli, it would remain surprising to see catcher Matt Wieters trade hands before 2014. But "an extension is becoming more and more remote," in her opinion.
- Trade speculation has also recently hit shortstop J.J. Hardy, but Ghiroli throws cold water on that idea as well. As she explains, dealing Hardy opens up a hole in the lineup even if Manny Machado is shifted to short, since then the team would have no obvious choice to man the hot corner. Of course, an overwhelming return could nevertheless be enticing, and that could well be precisely what the O's sought in approaching the Cardinals with interest in Shelby Miller.
Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com feels that while there is a growing sentiment among some Orioles fans that Matt Wieters should be traded due to his declining offensive numbers, the backstop is part of the team's core and should instead be offered an extension. Melewski points out that Adam Jones was extended with two years of team control remaining — the same amount of team control the Orioles currently hold over Wieters. He adds that Wieters is a durable clubhouse leader that is entering his prime years, all of which should factor into the team's desire to retain him. The x-factor that isn't discussed by Melewski is Wieters' agent, Scott Boras. Few Boras clients sign extensions prior to free agency, though notable recent exceptions include Elvis Andrus, Carlos Gomez and Carlos Gonzalez. More on the O's…
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Manny Machado's surgery to repair the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee will take place today. The projected four-to-six-week timeframe for his recovery will have him ready sometime between the beginning of Spring Training and the early portion of April.
- From within that same piece, Connolly writes that Jason Hammel is behind Scott Feldman, Nate McLouth and Brian Roberts on the Orioles' "priority to re-sign" list. Connolly's assumption is that Hammel will hook on with another team. I could envision him signing a similar contract to that of Feldman last offseason — one year at $5-6MM with additional incentives based on innings pitched and/or games started.
- Lastly from Connolly, the out-of-options Danny Valencia figures to make the team in 2014 and could see more time in the field early on, depending on Machado's recovery. Connolly adds that despite Valencia's large numbers against left-handed pitching, a consistent DH who can get on base regularly will be an offseason priority for the Orioles.
The Rays and Rangers will square off in a one-game playoff to determine the second American League Wild Card team tonight and finalize the postseason picture. Should the Rays come up short, it will mark the first time since 2006 in which the AL East has not been represented by two teams in the postseason (the Yankees, Twins, Tigers and A's were playoff teams that year). Here's more on the AL East…
- There has been increasing speculation about whether or not Yankees manager Joe Girardi will return to the team in 2014 given his expiring contract, and ESPN's Buster Olney hears that the Yanks will have to significantly increase Girardi's $3MM salary in order to retain him (Twitter link).
- There's mutual interest between Scott Feldman and the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko thinks the O's will re-sign their midseason acquisition unless another team vastly overpays for him on the free agent market.
- Within that piece, Kubatko also notes that free agent Jason Hammel's tenure with the Orioles is likely finished. He adds that if our own Tim Dierkes' two-year, $10MM projection for Nate McLouth is accurate, then McLouth is as good as gone, too.
- The Blue Jays' payroll won't be moving back in 2014, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters yesterday, including MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. Anthopoulos stated that the team was more likely to address its holes via trade than free agency, noting that this year's free agent crop is once again looking weak. Chisholm lists second base and starting catcher as areas of focus, and he also notes that Toronto is searching for at least one middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Outfielder Nate McLouth signed a one-year, $1.75MM deal to return to the Pirates in December 2011, with a fourth outfielder role in mind after several years of struggles in Atlanta. He hit a low point at the end of May last year, as the Bucs released him. McLouth quickly signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, and played 47 games for their Triple-A affiliate before earning a call back to the bigs. At just 236 plate appearances, the sample was limited, but McLouth helped the Orioles reach the postseason and was their best hitter in the division series.
McLouth focused on a one-year deal on the free agent market, avoiding an option year but re-signing with the Orioles for just $2MM plus incentives. He's served as the team's primary left fielder and leadoff hitter in 2013, and has put together a solid campaign over a larger sample.
McLouth is respectable at drawing walks, with a 9% rate this year that is a tick above average for a left fielder. This year it has led to a .332 on-base percentage, also better than average for the position. A left-handed hitter, McLouth hit righties pretty well this year at a .275/.346/.416 clip.
McLouth also adds value on the basepaths. He has an 84.9% career success rate in stolen bases, and is tied for ninth in the AL with 30 swipes this year. Among those with at least 800 plate appearances and 30 stolen base attempts since 2012, McLouth's 84% success rate ranks ninth in baseball. More importantly, FanGraphs' baserunning statistics, which cover more than just steals, suggest McLouth has added 6.2 runs on the bases this year. That's tied for the 11th-best baserunning contribution in the game this year.
McLouth has spent most of his time in left field the last two years, but he can handle center in a pinch and even won a somewhat controversial Gold Glove for his play there in 2008.
Overall this year, FanGraphs pegs McLouth at 2.4 wins above replacement. That's fifth among free agent outfielders, assuming Coco Crisp's option will be exercised. McLouth is earning about 15% of Carlos Beltran's salary, but if you agree with the penalty given to Beltran by defensive stats, the two players have been roughly equally valuable in 2013. The free agent market still veers toward baseball card numbers, so Beltran's 24 home runs and 84 RBI will serve him well and could result in a qualifying offer. McLouth's value is less obvious, creating a potential free agent bargain even with a raise. And a qualifying offer will not be a factor.
McLouth does not hit left-handed pitching well, with a .196/.287/.304 line since 2011. The Orioles have benched him accordingly against some southpaws, so he's faced lefties in only 21.7% of his plate appearances this year rather than the typical 26-30%. A team signing McLouth will need to have a right-handed hitting left fielder on hand as a platoon partner.
McLouth should be used sparingly in center field, as his defensive numbers suggest he's well below average at the position. The average left fielder has a weighted on-base average of .317 this year, not far from McLouth's .325. He has a little bit of pop, but doesn't fit the power profile of a left fielder. A team might have to find power at an atypical position to compensate.
McLouth has been worth more than two wins above replacement this year, the first time he's been worth even one full win in a season since 2009. His sample as a productive outfielder has grown, but he has to shake off an even larger sample of being replacement level. And this may be cherry-picking, but since a huge April, McLouth has hit just .245/.309/.382.
Born in Michigan, Nate resides with his wife Lindsay in Knoxville, Tennessee. McLouth is a deeply religious person who has overcome adversity in his career, as explained in this article a year ago by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
The Orioles aren't brimming with alternatives to replace McLouth, and will have to turn to the free agent and trade markets if they don't re-sign him. Nolan Reimold has been hampered by injuries for two years, and may be non-tendered. Prospects L.J. Hoes and Xavier Avery were traded this summer, leaving Henry Urrutia as the main internal option. Since McLouth could assume more of an above-average, oft-used fourth outfielder role, he could boost the depth of many clubs.
As a short-side platoon bat with little defensive ability, Jonny Gomes set the bar last winter with a two-year, $10MM deal. Part-timers such as Scott Hairston, Ty Wigginton, and Jack Hannahan also received two years. Another good example is David DeJesus, who was signed to a two-year, $10MM deal with a club option by the Cubs as an outfielder who would be benched against many southpaws. Ultimately I think McLouth will land that same two-year, $10MM deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.